Sunday, April 11, 2010

What constitutes strong?

This is something that is debated back and forth all the time by lifters.  A long time ago I had a "star system" where I set up lifts for 5 rep maxes and what level it was placed on.  Like "weak, average, strong, elite" that kind of thing.  It stirred up quite a bit of discussion on the small board I posted on at the time.  I thought it was good food for thought.

I go back and forth with this sort of thing all the time with Jim Wendler of elitefts and so I figured what the heck, I'd throw some numbers up that we have been chatting about that would constitute really diesel elite-level lifting for reps.

Bench Press - 315x20

I took notice of this after Eric Lilliebridge sent me his training log.  Most all of the 500+ bench pressers I know can hit around 315 for 20-22 reps or so.  And even if you couldn't bench 500, if you could do 315x20 you'd be damn big and strong.  No getting around that.

Dips - 200x10

Jim says this is ridiculous.  I left it at 200x10 for that very reason.  I mean we're talking elite level right?

Chins - 100x10

Some skinny guys that are naturally built for chinning might be able to hit this.  But we're talking dead-stop chins all the way up.  Not that forehead to the bar shit.  This is diesel chinning/back strength, especially for guys over 200 pounds.

Squats and Deadlifts - 500x20

Yeah sounds ridiculous doesn't it?  That's the point.  Using a calculator this would come out to an 800 squat or dead.  Mind you, the point here isn't that if you worked up to this you would be hitting an 800 squat or dead, but you'd damn sure have increased your 1 rep max and you'd be a walking Hulk to boot.  Second, all of that mass would have increased your 1 rep max ceiling.  Meaning you probably would be able to translate those reps into an 800 squat or dead after specializing in some singles for a while.  Good stuff all around.

Kaz claimed to have squatted 600x25 pretty regularly. I don't doubt it.

Standing Strict Press - 315x1

No push press crap.  Lots of guy can do push press numbers that look good but then fall flat on their face come strict press time.  This is the one lift where we never talked about reps but just about putting 3 wheels overhead.  I was probably good for this at one time (275x3 strict) but I do my standing press from a clean.  I couldn't hang clean 315 so I never got a shot.  After August I am going to take a real run at this over the next 12 months.

Barbell Curls - 185 x 10

Again, strict.  I don't think we discussed this one too much but it's there (I think).  


I think it's safe to say if you knew someone that could hit all of these, words like "beastly" and "awesome" would come to mind.  Words like "thin" "slight" or "frail" probably would not.

7 lifts to maximize your entire genetic potential for strength and mass (along with PBnJ).

Pretty simple isn't it?


  1. Do you think you could post that table that you have?

  2. Any chance you can post your "star system"?

  3. I tried to find the star system a while back but couldn't. I'll keep looking though and post it up as soon as I can find it. I'm pretty sure the numbers will be lower than what Jim and I have talked about here.

    Zach I assume you're talking about the same thing.

    I think I can find it guys. Try back here again this evening.

  4. Yes, I was talking about the same thing.

  5. Still trying to dig it up guys.........

  6. If you were to replace flat bench with incline bench, what would the new "strong" number be?

    I'm thinking something like 275x20?

    These are my new goal numbers, but I train incline instead of flat bench because I train alone (safety catches in squat rack work great for incline bench if set right).

  7. 275x20 would be a hell of an incline. If you can't bench and want to put incline in that'd a great place to start.

  8. How big would you assume or guess a person to be who could hit these numbers?

  9. I think it could vary greatly. I doubt you will see any fat guys doing it because the chins and high reps will negate that. for myself I think I would need to be 250-255 but leaner than I am now. Not that I'm fat, but I would need to be carrying more mass than I am now, but not so much that it was detrimental to the chins and dips.

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  13. These are very ambitious numbers Paul. How many people do you know that can hit them? Great blog by the way!

  14. I'm not sure if I know anyone that can hit them all but I'd guess that a few people I know OF, can.

    I'd love to be able to hit all of these and that's really my overall goal.

    Thanks for the comments! :)

  15. Nice list. What about Strict Press for 20 reps? 185?


  16. Well we didn't do a standing press for reps, but if I had to say, 225x20 would be about right.

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